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Saturday, 11 June 2016

A overdoor ornament in cherrywood | Custom-made architectural carvings | A carved sopraporte

A overdoor ornament, a supraporte

A overdoor ornament carved 
in cherrywood

In this blog item I will show you several stages of the carving process for an overdoor (supraporte in Latin) with the help of some pictures. An overdoor is a decorative piece (a painting, bas-relief or in this case a carved panel) placed above a door and can also be incorporated within the cornice of a door frame,

The assignment
The assignment in this case entailed two overdoors in cherry wood, which were designed and created in the spring of 2016 for a client in Texas (US)

The preconditions
The client had a number of personal wishes, which he wanted to see incorporated in the overdoor carved from cherry wood. These decorations would become a part of the already existing wainscoting (or paneling), which was also made of cherry wood.

A carved sopraporte


The design
The eye-catcher is the oval cartouche placed at the center, depicting a cross with an open bible on top. On the left page, we see the letter Alpha and on the right the letter Omega. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the classic (Ionic) Greek alphabet. For Christians, the two letters together symbolize God’s omnipotence.

On the left-hand side, we see a number of arrows come out from under the cartouche and on the right-hand side we notice a torch. All these elements were part of the personal wishes of the client. The whole piece is tied together by a bow, a ribbon and some foliage. This elongated trophy in cherry wood has a maximum thickness of 45mm. This type of wood is extremely hard and therefore quite difficult to carve




History

A supraporte or overdoor (Latin: supra=over; porta=door) is a decoration applied over a door or over a portal.
The term “decoration” is interpreted on a broad way. The decorations can be a painting, a fresco painted on the wall, a sculpture or a carved or plastered relief.
Sometimes the painting is made in “grisaille” style. That is, the 3D picture is in one color (black or brown) in different shades and is imitating sculptures in stone. A relief work, embossment, mostly to be found in the Rococo cartouche at the “supraporte”.
Embossment may also be found integrated with the lintel of the door frame.

A supraporte in the form of a flat triangle is called tympanum. 


A supraporte could be found –taking into consideration the height of the ceiling- in a horizontal or in a vertical position. For example, the overdoor of an exterior door or portal can even reach to the roof.
A supraporte for an inside door is not only adapted to the height of the ceiling, but can incorporate work that also represents the origin of the owner of the respective room or the building in which it is located.
In the old times it was extremely important to show the social position of the owner, and the supraporte was a good way to show it. 

The (self) glorification of the owner/resident could show his/her monogram or the family coat of arms, being the central role in the entire composition of the ornaments of the supraporte.
In de Palace of Versailles you could find several rooms that have the crossed L of Louis XIV or the three lilies of France, a glorification of the country and of the king. 


Custom-made architectural carvings | Patrick Damiaens talks about an OVERDOOR ornament


The decorations and ornaments of a (wooden) supraporte may be use in a different way. A door trim for a music room (some rich people has it), could be decorated with musical instruments. The same theme can also be incorporated in the over door, design that every visitor could instantly identify the function of the room.

Other government or secular buildings with their own and specific function, demonstrate again their own importance with the use of the supraporte. So the glorification or function will be shown in a central cartouche. 
For example, through the use of attributes in a trophy, like “law”, “science”, “army”, the supraporte works as a way to make emphasis and to be the focal point; the visitor will be aware where he is standing. 

Worship buildings have –of course- other themes; so there are religious images in bas relief carved, locating or not in an oval cartouche.
But there are also trophies with religious attributes, such as the following:  candles, candlesticks, chalices, bibles, censers… which are a central focal point in the composition.

In each style period, from the Renaissance you can find the use of the over door. Usually in castles and residences, and later in major civil houses and government buildings; but always adapted to the mentality and way of decoration and ornaments. 
For this reason, the decorations vary from country to country, and have its own characteristics.
Nowadays, it is possible to find a supraporte with a family photo, a religious sign or paintings; unconsciously connecting you to an ancient tradition of over doors. In that case, it is not functional but decorative in nature.   


Here are some pictures. 
The different stages of process. 
A OVERDOOR ORNAMENT 
carved in cherry wood.

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Custom-made architectural carvings | A supraporte ornament

Modelling the supraporte




Carving of the details in the supraporte






Patrick Damiaens | Carving a supraporte ornament


 A overdoor ornament in cherrywood | Custom-made architectural carvings

Last detail, leaves and berries on the oval cartouche

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